Sunday, April 22, 2018

Flowers, a Fair & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I added some additions to the leftover crowder peas... carrots, onions, corn and red pepper to make a version of succotash.  I also added a splash of herb vinegar.  It was very good.  I made a berry vinaigrette using homemade berry syrup.  I took advantage of a 20% off sale to stock up on oral care products and to try a body care product.  There are now eggplant and sweet pepper seedlings up, in addition to several varieties of tomatoes.  Putting them in a protected outdoor space during the day has helped them become sturdier plants.  This is the metal pot from the rummage sale.  Isn't it a beaut?

Laundry was done with homemade soap, and hung on the line.  For a lunch and a breakfast, smoothies were enjoyed which included homemade yogurt and our mulberries.  In between two days in the 60's, we had an 81 degree day.  I decided to make a seven layer dip for dinner, which included some of the recanned jars of olives.  Lilac plants, running cedar and a clump of daffodil bulbs were gifted to me by a friend.  J & I got those planted.  It's become a tradition for a friend and I to go to the annual Herb Society plant sale, which happened last week.  I came home with less than in years past, but still had a large basket full to plant, including spilanthes, lady's mantle, bleeding heart, a bright pink salvia, gotu kola, valerian, and a lemon verbena to replace the one that got weed whacked last year.

velvet ribbon & pillowcases from rummage sale
While I was at the plant sale, J purchased a pickup truck full of wood mulch, and got it spread.  We've since heard of a place to get a dump truck full for a great price, and have plans to do that.  You can never have enough mulch, though we may need a troop of young men to help us spread it :o).  A couple of weeks ago, I began noticing one of the Ameraucana hens becoming broody, which was a nice surprise.  After watching her several days, and gingerly putting new eggs under her chest... she's pretty fierce...we decided to try her in the broody area.  So, on Monday, while J held her, I transferred 11 eggs to the broody nest, and she has been sitting on them since.  If all goes well, we'll be hearing little cheeps in a couple of weeks.

Our granddaughter spent the night with us this weekend, before we went to a nearby children's fair.  There were troops of children's dances from all over the world... so cute in their elaborate costumes.  In addition to face painting and a man making balloon animals, there were tables of crafts for the kids.  She was able to decorate a tote bag, a foam butterfly and a visor, and make a shaker and a crepe paper flower.  I introduced her to mango and smoothies, and she learned she likes both.   She collected eggs, and helped harvest parsley and oregano for dinner.  The sweet bouquet above was created by her.  Wishing you a most beautiful week!

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Little Canning, A Natural Dye Experiment & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  As the wood stove won't be in use much longer, I decided to take advantage of that free source of heat.  A quart of homegrown dried crowder peas was put on the wood stove top, along with 3 gallon bags of vegetable scraps for stock.  Another pot of water for canning was heated too.  Later in the week, the forecast was for 80, but on Monday it was a rainy morning with a high of 50, so I decided to do some canning while the heat would be more appreciated.  The #10 can of black olives I got in Asheville was recanned, giving me 16 half pint jars to add to the shelf.

While watching the canner, I prepped dinner.  There was enough butternut squash for two crumbles, so I froze half for a future meal.  As I prepped, I added the vegi bits to the broth pot on the wood stove... squash skins and ends, mushroom and garlic ends, asparagus bottoms and herb stems.  I had frozen some homegrown thyme and parsley, and used that in the crumble.  During the night, I realized I'd forgotten to add reishi mushroom to the broth, which I love for all it's benefits, so did that.  The broth was canned the next day, adding 5 1/2 pints to the pantry.  I reused the water the canning rings were boiled in to boil eggs once it cooled. 

I recently noticed the large rhubarb was putting forth a bloom.  I've never had one grow large enough to do that, so I'm pretty excited about it.  I did some research and found I need to cut it: "The flower head that comes up from rhubarb plants should be removed immediately when you first observe it... to maintain and ensure the highest quality and maximum yield from your rhubarb garden, it is important that the plants not be allowed to go to seed."  Good to know.   I did cut it, and saved some stem and the tender part of the stalk to do something with.  

I forgot to mention I left two books in the little free library, when I dropped off a soap delivery last week.  I didn't see any books that interested me, so didn't pick up any.  After turning a lotion bottle upside down, there was still quite a bit left in the bottle.  I added some water, and was able to use the rest of it.  I enjoyed season 2 of Victoria on Netflix, and the movie Breathe through Amazon Prime.  Laundry was done with homemade soap, and hung on the line.  I made an apple pie from filling canned in January.  Asparagus was harvested several days.  I've been working on my pumice stones at Whynot Pottery.  Most were put in the kiln on Friday, and fired over the weekend.  I've been told they came out wonderfully, and can't wait to see them.

dyed with cedar rust fungus, no mordant
On one of my walks, I noticed the bright orange gel of cedar rust fungus.  When I picked some up, it turned my hands slightly orange, so I thought it was worth a dye experiment.  The initial attempt with just the fungus didn't impart much color, after boiling and overnight soaking.  By the next morning, the sunlight had bleached any color from the fabric.  I found only a couple of mentions online of dyeing with this, one with wool, and the other silk.  I used a piece of cotton, one of flannel, and scrap of beige silk.

dyed with cedar rust fungus and iron
The next day, I added some iron water I'd made by soaking metal shavings, around 1/4 cup to the pot, and soaked the fabric in it overnight.  The colors were deeper this time, and they had not faded any when I took them off the line in the evening.  I intend to try another round with alum, but haven't had time to do it yet.

wild iris
We had a big gardening weekend.  We're working towards a no till garden, but the weeds had already gotten away from us, so J tilled just the top inch or two to disturb the weeds.  He prepared areas for carrots, beets, lettuce, arugula and spinach, and I planted them.  I cleaned up a couple of beds, weeding and pruning back dead winter stalks.  One is an area with herbs, rhubarb, and woad, a dye plant.  I intend to plant the area with more dye plants this year.  I transplanted the wintersown safflower, one I intend to use for dyeing into a larger container.  I did the same with wild mignonette, and Hopi red amaranth, two more dye plants.  The hollyhocks seemed large enough to plant, and I tried three spots, hoping at least one will make them happy.  I also planted the phacelia in a bed near the garden, hoping it will bring beauty and lots of pollinators.  The peas got strings to climb upon on Saturday.  We noticed the tops had been chewed by rabbits, and on Sunday, J said more of the tops were gone.  At this rate, there will be no peas.  We're pondering what to do to make a barrier.

wild cherry
We've enjoyed fringe trees and viburnum along the path on this land, and have intended to move some closer to the house to enjoy for some time.  We finally did that on Sunday, and got them in the ground just before a big thunderstorm rolled in.  We only took a small amount.  Most of both was left in the wild.  We also got a few ferns from a spot that J had pushed up last fall, and some plants that look like a small sunflower.  We're hoping the rain will settle everything in nicely.  So far, the only seeds recently started in the house that have germinated are Indigo Blue Berry tomatoes.  It's a start. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Buttons, Blooms & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  Our trip out of town was lovely.  It was wonderful spending time with friends while enjoying a delicious lunch.  I made no purchases other than food and drink, brought home leftovers, and in walking along the river at a winery, found branches loaded with usnea on the ground.  I was able to harvest this gift, and began a jar of tincture with it this week.  The wild iris, redbud and coral honeysuckle have begun blooming here.

A good deal of mending was done this week- pants, shirts, a laundry bag, pajama pants, 5 sweaters & 2 pairs of J's work pants.  I thought I was actually caught up, but then remembered this was only the overflow.  The original mending was in a covered basket, so I still have to work on that.  After delivering soap to a gallery, I stopped at a nearby thrift store, and found vintage plates $2.50 ea. (online from $19 - $22 ea.), frame .50, white shirt for plant dyeing $3, fabric .50, and copper pot from Ireland $15.  I then headed to Harris Teeter.  Some of the bargains found were organic beans 10/$10, and the cheapest organic butter I've found lately @ $5.49.  I'm almost out of butter, so bought 2, and hope to find a better sale soon.  A batch of pasta sauce was made with our tomatoes, summer squash, and herbs.  Asparagus was harvested several days.  Though they are not as plentiful as they were at their peak a few years ago, they are beginning to prosper again.  Instead of enough for one or two meals, as in recent years, we should have enough for several meals.  We do love asparagus.

Last week, I shared a dozen eggs with 3 people.  I've been enjoying eggs with wild greens and asparagus for breakfast, and the pups get an egg a day.  I wandered and gathered a leaf or two of dandelion, dock, violet leaves and flowers, then scrambled them for a beautiful and delicious breakfast.  I started seeds for chard, tomatoes, eggplant and sweet peppers in a number of varieties.  I heard a hummingbird one day, put out a second feeder, and saw the first one on Saturday.  I made a batch of hummus, and saved the lemon seeds for pectin.  I've been saving wool sweaters and scarves to felt, and got around to putting them through a round in the washer and dryer.  Before felting two of the sweaters, I removed the buttons.  One set is abalone, and the other set J says are pewter.

I attended a rummage sale with my sister, which supports our local arts guild, and found a number of treasures.  My iron was dropped and broken last week, and I found a like new one with retractable cord for $5 (listed $55.95 online).  A favorite find was a large copper and brass pot for $16, which was the most expensive item by far.  A large pottery pot with plant was gotten for $5.  A set of 4 new jelly jars for $1 (retail $9.25).  Two fine sets of pillowcases, large pieces of cotton lawn fabric, hand blown glass, wooden spoon, wood fired pottery bowl $1, and a length of velvet ribbon .50, were also purchased.  There are always a group of free boxes at the rummage sale.  I plundered through, and found what appeared to be some handkerchiefs and napkins in a ziploc bag, and grabbed that on the way out.  Once I got it home, I realized there was also a baby pillow cover and what I think is a christening gown in beautiful shape.  I hope to take photos of some of these in the coming week, and share a new dye experiment.  Wishing you a most lovely week!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Hillbilly Hummus & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  J requested pasta with pesto, which I was able to take out of the freezer (the pesto, from last summer's garden), and made a salad to go along.  We used olive oil and vinegar for dressing, the vinegar being a yummy one a friend had gifted us, and made with Italian herbs. While in the hardware store buying paint for our online shop, I picked up a dozen broccoli plants, a six pack each of the two varieties they had, which were planted when I got home.  For a purchase I made online, by going through ebates and using a coupon code, I saved 11%.  As each batch of violets dries, I've gathered more to dry.  I'm not sure how I'll use them yet, whether in an herbal tincture or in bodycare products, maybe both.

I cut two bouquets for the house, using daffodils, grape hyacinth and regular white hyacinths.  Free tea I was given with a purchase in Knoxville was enjoyed.  Three of our small butternut squash were used in a crumble, my favorite way to use them, which also used our parsley and thyme.  Vegetable and herb bits went into the broth bag in the freezer.  Several hours were spent weeding, concentrating on the mock strawberry that wants to take over.  On a night J was out of town, I took leftover vegi calzone from the freezer, and heated it for dinner.  The limes I bought on sale last week were juiced and frozen.  I tried a new hummus recipe, "Hillbilly Hummus", from the Bean by Bean cookbook.  The flavor was good, but even better a day or two later.

There have been some interesting goings on with magazines lately.  I've been a subscriber to Country Living magazine for decades.  I'd noticed that I would begin getting renewal notices not long after I had renewed for a year.  My subscription was noted to expire on both my magazine labels and their website as Oct. 2018.  I began getting renewal notices last spring, which I thought was mighty early, and they quit sending magazines last fall.  I politely wrote them a letter, with a form they'd sent, showing Oct. 2018 as my expiration date.  Their response, after several weeks, was to send me a renewal form, having changed the expiration date to this month.  No note of any sort, just a renewal form.  Never mind the fact I did not receive the magazines between October and March, that's just wrong.  As much as I love the magazine, I refuse to renew with that kind of customer service.  Onward to the second magazine, which had a nicer outcome.  My sister and her husband bought J a homesteading magazine for Christmas.  After no magazines or correspondence arrived January or February, I wrote them in early March.  Thankfully, there's a way to reach them online.  The email said they'd make it right, and sure enough, a magazine arrived this week.  The cover story this month, Build Your Debt-Free Dream Life, fits right in with a frugal lifestyle.

I made suet for the birds and yogurt, and harvested several more spears of asparagus.  We'll soon have enough for a nice "mess".  Egg shells were crushed.  I finally got around to freezing almost three full bags of cranberries.  Previous years, I ended up having to compost them, so I'm considering it a win.  There were soft ones that went to the chickens, but most were saved.  Having followed the deep litter method in the chicken coop this winter, basically piling clean litter on top of the old, which is supposed to keep things warmer, it was quite a task to clean out the coop.  Three wheel barrow fulls went to the compost pile, and the nest boxes and floor got fresh hay, plus some sprigs of spearmint for fragrance.  All of the wintersown containers have begun germinating, which is pretty exciting.  J's birthday falls on Easter this year, so we're off on an adventure, meeting friends for lunch at a winery, then staying at a lovely B&B nearby.  Our friend M is taking care of the homestead.  Wishing you a Happy Easter, a Happy Passover, and a lovely week. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Using Up Winter Squash & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  It's time to be using up the squash we stored over winter.  I baked the last two spaghetti squash, froze half, and enjoyed the rest sauteed with lambs quarter from the freezer.  At the same time, I baked a cushaw squash, and tried a new brownie recipe that was shared by Diary of a Locavore.  I substituted the cushaw for butternut squash, used bittersweet chips, and used 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour I had ground.  Otherwise, I kept to the recipe, and they were dense and delicious.  Joseph tried them first, and said you'd never know there was squash in them. I agree there's no trace of squash, just a moist and yummy brownie.  If you still have winter squash to use up, you may want to give them a try.  I baked the squash a morning that it snowed several hours.  It was very pretty coming down, but thankfully the ground was too warm for it to stick.  Now that it's spring, I'm ready for winter weather to give way to more springlike weather.

All but one of my winter sown seeds has begun germinating.  The first two asparagus up were nipped by a freeze, but I've harvested a couple more stalks since.  Laundry was done with homemade soap and soap gel, and hung on the line.  Each time I get orders painted, packed and shipped out, more come in.  I'm happy about that, even though it does keep me quite busy.  More soap is being wrapped this week.  Several years ago, I made clay pumice stones, to sell along with my soaps.  They took a while to sell, but I'm down to the last two, and received such a wonderful review of the last one I sold, I decided to make more.  My good friends at Whynot Pottery keep me on track with making them, and fire them in their kiln.  They've been using some new glazes I'm excited to try on the stones.  I picked up books I had requested at the library.

I went through swagbucks for a 3% rebate on supplements, and through ebates for 3% back on a business card purchase.  A $25 amazon gift card was redeemed with swagbucks points.  I brought leftovers for lunch and my water bottle on days I worked at the pottery. My brother and his wife gifted us 3 nut trees (pecan, chestnut and hazelnut) for Christmas, which arrived this week.  We plan to plant them tomorrow. I found a penny on one of my walks.  Eggs were boiled and yogurt was made for the pups.   When I went to a local grocery for mushrooms, they had limes marked down 8/.75, so I bought a pack, and will freeze the juice.  I shopped at a co-op I've belonged to for many years during their anniversary week, and received an extra 20% off produce... organic carrots, celery, potatoes, grape tomatoes & bananas.

Vegi scraps were either composted or added to the broth bag in the freezer.  Paper and thin cardboard were shredded.  Egg shells were added to a pan in the oven, which when full, will be crushed and added to the compost.  Ziploc bags were washed for reuse.  I took advantage of  a Fedex delivery to send an order out, saving me a trip to town.  We found out we'll be getting a nice refund on our taxes, and will be picking them up in the morning.  The refund will go towards a large and unexpected expense.  Other than that, I look forward to a day to do some catching up at home.  I hope your week is a good one, friends, whether you're spending your days at home or elsewhere.  I'm happy to be joining with Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Almost Spring & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Though my trip to Knoxville was not what you'd call a frugal one overall, it did have its moments.  Our hotel included delicious breakfasts, baked goods in the evenings, and bowls of apples available for the taking.  Most shopping done was at thrift stores and discount groceries.  I did buy a small gift for J at a retail shop, and bought myself a shirt marked down 60% at another store.  My friend drove her Prius, which got upper 50's mpg for the trip.  My favorite finds at the discount grocery were a #10 can of sliced black olives for $1.98, which I plan to recan in 1/2 pint jars, and a 5# jar of queen olives for $3.

Leftovers from the trip were enjoyed for another two meals.  I made pasta sauce with our tomatoes, summer squash and herbs.  Having an abundance of eggs, I shared a dozen with a niece, and made a custard pie to bring for dinner.  Joseph and I had our first date on St. Patrick's Day, so we usually do something to celebrate.  This year, for a couple of reasons, we decided to stay home.  I pulled the last of the cabbages in the garden, and made colcannon, and made a loaf of Irish soda bread to go with it, using our egg, and homemade yogurt to make the "buttermilk".  I recently saw a chart of hummingbird arrival in various locations.  The coming week is when they officially arrive here, so I made a batch of food and hung the feeder.  I usually equate their arrival with Easter, but know I've seen them sooner some years.

The peas in the garden are finally germinating, but there are no sign of the potatoes or garlic yet.  I took advantage of a mostly sunny day to harvest violets.  I've eaten an occasional flower in the past, but recently learned how wonderfully medicinal the flowers and leaves are, so harvested some of both.  Then I weeded the mostly mock strawberry from around the plants, to encourage the violets to spread.  I made yogurt, boiled eggs for the pups, and enjoyed an egg sandwich one morning.  Laundry was done with homemade soap, and hung on the line.  After going through various paperwork,  much of it was shredded.

My wintersown phacelia seeds are the first ones up.  I transplanted the lettuce and kale seedlings into the garden, in an area I can cover if needed.  They're spindly, but perhaps they'll grow stronger outside.  We enjoyed hummus made from pantry items for lunch on Sunday.  It's a blessing that orders continue to come in to our little home goods shop.  If not quite there, we've got to be close to having enough to pay for our beach trip this summer.  I set aside our earnings especially for our vacation fund, and plan to crunch the numbers this week.  I noticed two lizards out and about on my wanderings today, and the first mockingbird song of the year, which made me smile.  Wishing you a week that brings you smiles.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Little Winter Sowing & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I made a potato leek soup.  Our leeks are still pretty small, so it took about 10 to have enough.  I had a frugal fail... forgetting to use my 10% coupon at Tractor Supply when buying animal food, which would have been $5 and change :o(.  I picked up mailbox ribbon for 50% off at Hobby Lobby and a St. Patrick's decoration for 30% off.  Homemade soap was used for laundry and in the bathroom.  Two loads of laundry were hung on the line.  Warm up water was used in the wood stove humidifier and for watering plants.  I made a pie with our cushaw squash, and used our eggs and homemade vanilla.  Between cold and rain, walks with the pups have been less, but most days, at least one walk was taken.  I'm joining in with Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker.

I shared cuttings of persimmon and elderberry with a friend, and starts of leeks and walking onions, and was gifted two springform pans, two spatulas, a Pampered Chef stoneware loaf pan, and a book to read.  After visiting and having lunch here, we went to an antique/pottery shop and consignment shop nearby.  I attempted to buy a small whisk at the antique store for $1, but the owner refused to let me pay, saying it was the least she could do for bringing someone to her shop.  At the consignment store, I found a gift a friend recently mentioned she needed.  It was a very good price, and then I found it was 25% off at checkout.  That was nice.  I've worked on our latest jigsaw puzzle several times, and enjoyed my free Pandora stations while working around the house.

I made cabbage and noodles with the last of our stored cabbages, and deviled eggs to help use up some of the bounty.  A batch of suet was made for the birds, with dehydrated elderberry leavings and seeds saved from bags of seeded bread.  The soles of my wool slippers were reglued.  One of my ebay listings actually sold for a decent price.  Yippee!  I finally planted a round of wintersown seeds.  I used all the potting soil we had, and planted phacelia, wild mignonette-weld, hollyhocks gifted by a friend, red carthamus, and Hopi amaranth.  I had the thought to try putting the kale and lettuce seedlings under a set of halogen lights under the cabinets.  At first, they seemed to be doing better, but one by one the kale seedlings are toppling over.  I think I may try direct seeding them both in the garden soon.

I used most of the potatoes we cut eyes from for planting in a potato soup, which also used our parsley.  I made a salad with homemade dressing using berry syrup I canned.  While J holds down the homestead, I'm taking a road trip with a dear friend to see these ladies.  This is another favorite.  We always have the best of adventures, and I suppose because we've been friends so long (since 9th grade!), it's always a very laid back time.  Seeing I wouldn't use all the vegis before leaving town, I blanched and froze 3 bags of broccoli for future meals.  A couple of artichokes were steamed and enjoyed.  Wishing you joy and things that make your heart happy!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Early March Blooms & Frugal Accomplishments

There are still quite a few winter squash in the root cellar, and it's time to be eating them up.  I made a butternut squash crumble, which is my favorite winter squash recipe.  While it was baking, I put two of the cushaw squash in the oven to bake for pies.  The mushrooms that didn't go into the crumble were sauteed in butter, and some were added to a pizza the next night.   Lots of good pantry items went into the pizza... home ground wheat, roasted eggplant and sweet pepper from the garden, black olives I'd canned from a #10 can (using these instructions), as well as green olives and artichoke hearts.   Our oregano went into the sauce, along with onion and garlic.  Half of the sauce, a second pizza crust and 1/2 of the mushrooms were frozen for a future meal.

I've been making lots of soap, to build my stock back up.  The woodstove is going again, and has been used to melt the oils, saving on propane.  While in town to deliver soap and ship an order, I ran by the discount grocery store.  I find very little there these days, but did find codling moth traps for the orchard, for $3.  The regular price on amazon is $15.99, but it's on sale for $8.39. I'd say I still got a pretty good deal, and am hoping it makes for nicer fruit this year.  We placed the two traps on Sunday.  I gathered branches of forsythia to enjoy in the house.  J worked up areas for planting potatoes and garlic.  Our kale seedlings are up, and one of the lettuces too.  We don't have a grow light set up, and it's been way too windy to put them outdoors, so they're already getting leggy.

While preparing potatoes for dinner one night, I cut off the eyes and set them aside to plant.  For one breakfast, I made an omelet.  I remembered having a crepe with kalamata paste in it, and how good it was, so decided to try it with a jar that was already open, along with grape tomatoes and artichoke hearts.  It was yummy!  I've been giving away eggs, but there is still an abundance.  One night, I made a frittata, which used another 4 eggs.  I made asian slaw with some of our cabbage that needed using.  Recently, I picked up several dessert pedestals I made some years back, and had at a gallery.  I asked J if there was some way to separate the plates and candlesticks, as I really liked the plates.  He suggested I put them in a cold oven, and bring it up to 225 degrees.  That worked well for two of them, but a third required 240 and quite a bit longer, and eventually separated, so I can add three more plates to our rotation.

I've been working away at my taxes, little by little.  I can only stand 2 to 2 1/2 hours at a time, before my brain hurts :o).  I finally finished readying everything on Saturday, so we can make an appointment to have them done soon.  I've been meaning to share the cedar boxes M made for me.  They hold large and small paper clips, which I had out while doing taxes, and remembered to take a photo to share.  He's also made several shaving brush handles for my shop, and is getting pretty handy with his lathe.  I've been plugging away at my to do list as I'm able.  I've been enjoying having indoor home days, which helps me to stay focused on tasks.  My mending has patiently been waiting for me.  Last week, I mended a winter coat, a throw pillow, and the binding on a hooked rug.  I've been working on a second rug, which is in much worse shape, and finished it Sunday evening.  It may not be worth it, as it won't last long even so, but it's a vintage one I'm fond of.

peach blossoms
On Sunday, J planted the garlic, and we planted the potatoes.  This year, we're trying King Harry potatoes, in addition to a few eyes from different varieties we saved from last year and some store bought ones.  The garlic is California White, a softneck variety.  Here's hoping both do better than in recent years.  The chickens have not been terribly cooperative, as far as scratching up the garden.  Though they have a large area to work up, they insist on going through the 4" holes of the fence to go outside the garden.  I chased groups of them back into the garden four times on Sunday, before giving up, and putting them back in their regular yard.  Some areas are in fairly good shape now, but they could have done a great deal more, if they'd just stayed in the garden.  Sheesh.  I made roasted potatoes with our rosemary Sunday night, and am thinking potato leek soup will soon be on the menu.  Wishing you blooms to cheer you , and good things to eat!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Back In The Groove & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  At better times, while the flu waxed and waned early in the week, I tried to do easy tasks, such as mending the sleeve on my favorite homestead sweater and going through a pile of magazines.  By Tuesday, my fever was gone, and it was the first day I felt like doing much of anything.  A load of laundry was done, and put in the dryer to minimize the physical labor needed, and some other simple things given attention  On Wednesday, I felt up to washing the bed linens and hanging them out to sanitize in the sun.  I did another round of house sanitizing, and found this list helpful.  I've mentioned both here before, but it seems a good time to say my favorite botanical disinfecting spray is here, and hand sanitizer is this one.   They're just as effective as the chemical ones, and an added benefit is they both smell amazing.

I noticed a few red rose hips still hanging onto the wild roses, and gathered them to use for tea.  A 20% off code was used for supplements, with an additional 12% code for one product.  Our library is working with the state Wildlife Commission and the Smithsonian to loan web cams for tracking wildlife.  I've signed up and taken the survey, and started some online training, requirements before you can get a camera.  Joseph & I are moving slower than usual, but managed to mix up a seed starting mixture, fill and plant one tray of seeds of kale and lettuces.  Interestingly, when we weeded the fall lettuce bed in the garden, we found quite a few new lettuce seedlings that must have found current conditions better for sprouting than last fall.  The two celery ends seem happy too.

I made it to town on Friday, and had a long list of errands to run.  I went by Tractor Supply and picked up a free candy bar while getting dog food.  At Big Lots, I found packs of bulbs to plant now, one a burgundy colored drumstick allium, and another one new to me, Triteleia Queen Fabiola.  I planted both on Saturday.  At the grocery store, I found a box of one of my favorite cookies, Carr's Whole Wheat Crackers, on the mark down shelf for $2.  One of the ends of the box had come unglued, but they looked fine in their plastic sleeve and it was two months out from expiration, so I got them.  I took all the donation boxes I'd filled to Goodwill, making some room in the shed.  I planted peas in the garden, after J readied the spot for me.  He planted walking onion sets we saved from the fall in another spot. J had the great idea to cut a hole in the garden fence, and make a walkway with tomato cages leading the few yards from the chicken yard to the garden.  He protected the few things that are growing, and the chickens are helping us clean up the weeds and bugs before planting. 

The week has been unseasonably warm, and it's been days since we needed heat.  Windows have been opened each day for fresh air.  I requested and picked up two books from the library.  I made pasta sauce using our tomatoes and herbs one night, cooked our sweet potatoes and collards another night, and made colcannon with our cabbage and a mix of ours and store bought potatoes.  Our appetites are still not back to normal. The good news is I lost a few pounds, and was back to my honeymoon weight.  I made yogurt and kefir.  I'm considering letting the kefir go.  I don't ever use it anymore, and just give a bit to the dogs daily.  I do sometimes use the yogurt myself, and the pups like it just as well, so it would be one less task to keep up with.   Three of the nest boxes were cleaned before it began raining.  I waited a little while to do the other three, but the hens were sitting and not ready to leave their boxes.  They'll have to wait for another day.  The pups and I did get a good walk in before the rain arrived.  Little by little, I'm getting back in the groove. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Bit of Yellow Cheer & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I made suet, kefir, and yogurt.  I added the tbs. or two of seeds in the bottom on my bread bag to a jar I save for bird suet.  The usual washing of ziploc bags, saving warm up water, composting and shredding happened.  Chickweed and various other greens were gathered and given to the chickens. Two loads of laundry were done with homemade soap and hung on the line.  There have continued to be lovely sales in both my online shops, and there was even a neighbor that had bought soap from me a year ago to drive up and buy 5 more.  Ebay is another story entirely, but I'll take the others as a good thing.

I suggested to J that we have a simple Valentine's Day this year, instead of going to an expensive restaurant as usual.  J made a simple dinner of cheese ravioli, a salad, and bread we warmed from the freezer.  I made a German cherry cake, which included our eggs and vanilla, and home ground cornmeal.  We were thankful we didn't have plans to go out, because one of our pups kept us up most of Tuesday night, and J began coming down with the flu Wednesday evening.  We ate our dinner by candlelight, and worked on our latest jigsaw puzzle for a little while.  I used frozen sweet cherries for the dessert, and froze six cubes of cherry juice for smoothies.  We're both taking homemade elderberry syrup, Emergen-C, and I'm dosing up on homemade fire cider to ward it off (J is allergic to ginger & turmeric, so can't take it).  The next day, I made another batch of immune support soup using one of our littlest pumpkins and a multitude of homestead vegetables and broth.

A friend read of my struggle with sewing the scrub pants, and offered to help with the top.  She came over and gave me lots of tips, lovely quilting needles and helped me a good long while, then gave instructions so that I could finish.  I finished it on Friday.  It's a little wonky, but I'm quite happy with it.  My massage clients have their head in a face cradle, so maybe they won't notice :o).  I'm a little nervous about throwing it in the wash, but hopefully it will play nice.  One tiny butternut squash was getting soft, so I cut it up and gave it to the chickens.  I used the remainder of cushaw squash in two loaves of "pumpkin" walnut bread, and froze one.  I went through swagbucks, to get 3% cash back on a small purchase.

Darn it, by Friday evening it was obvious I was getting sick with the flu too.  It's the longest the both of us have sat or laid around since we've known each other.  Lots of liquids, naps, reading and natural remedies will hopefully soon have us good as new.  Windows were opened for fresh air.  The scotch broom and daffodils have begun blooming.  J brought me a daffodil on Saturday, the only time he was outside all day. Can spring be too far behind, with this bit of yellow cheer?  There is always hope of good things to come.  Be well, friends.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Simple Pleasures, Some Sewing & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  For years, I thought there were yellow finches at the feeder in the winter.  It turns out they are pine warblers.  Once it was pointed out that they have different beaks,  I can readily see the difference.  Watching the feeders from the kitchen window is a simple pleasure.  I made Pasta Norma with our eggplant, tomatoes and herbs.  After working in town on Tuesday, I ran errands.  Walgreens was having their 20% off day, so I picked up a few items there, and at the grocery store, I found several cans of natural dog food marked down 50%.  I don't have a lot of stored animal food, so it makes me feel better to add these to the shelf.   I requested and picked up two books at the library.  Wednesday was a rainy day, but it got into the low 60's, so I opened up several windows for fresh air.  I cut up another of our cabbages, and made cabbage and noodles for dinner.  The Aldi's bouquet was looking tired after a week, so I cut away the sad flowers and recut the stems on the good ones, to have flowers at the table a bit longer.

I was gifted a beautiful little pottery bowl, and have found it useful several times in the kitchen already.   Ebates sent me a rebate of $13.32.  I continue looking for usnea on my walks, and add any found bits to the tincture bottle.  Some vegetable bits were added to the broth bag, some composted, and other bits chopped for the pups.  Warm up water was used to water plants and added to the humidifier.  Scrap paper was saved for lists, and other paper shredded.   A celery end was planted in the garden, and covered with a glass cloche.  The chickens were given the leftover rutabaga soup, after we ate it two nights, and some sad outer cabbage leaves.  They're still giving us plenty of eggs.  I boiled some for us and the pups, and used one in my Grandmother's dressing recipe.  Laundry was washed with homemade soap and rainwater, and hung on the line.

To make the best use of the oven, while baking an apple pie and dressing, I baked a cushaw squash. While in town shipping orders, I ran a few errands.  At the thrift store, I found several .10 cards, a spatula for .25, and jigsaw puzzles for .50 & .75.  I stopped at Tractor Supply for layer pellets, and saw large dog beds for $22, so picked 2 up.  The pups are enjoying them.  The beds replaced two couch cushions they've been using since we moved into the house, which did great for a long time, but they were getting shabby.  In addition to pecans, an Aldi's run consisted of produce... lemons, clementines, grapefruit, organic onions and grape tomatoes, and garlic.  For a breakfast, I added apple butter to yogurt, then topped it with some granola, all homemade items.  On Sunday, I used some of the cushaw squash, and baked a pie.  I pondered what I might do to make it healthier, and added 1/2 tsp maca.

On my to do list since last summer was sewing a pair of scrubs for massage work, the first clothing I've ever attempted.  I was determined to at least begin it over the weekend. First, I watched a video I had bookmarked, but found out it wasn't what I was looking for, as it was a tutorial in making a scrub top by using a T shirt as a pattern. I already had a pattern, so I began studying it.  Rather intimidated, I asked J for help, my dear husband of so many skills.  I chose to make it with batik fabric, which even though bought on sale, was not inexpensive.  I didn't want to mess up.  He helped me until I felt ready to pin and cut the fabric for the pants.  I did have to rip two seams out, but by the time we had to get ready to meet friends that evening, I had a pair of pants that needed hemming and the waist finished up.  On Sunday, the waistband was sewn, and a drawstring sewn and put in.  When I tried it on, the legs were really large, so I took in 3" per side, then hemmed them.  I left them rather long, because I don't like short pants and was concerned they might shrink with washing.  Not the best photo, but here they are.  Looking back, I really wish I'd been able to spend time learning from my tailor grandfather as a kid.  My grandmother did teach me a little hand sewing.  Perhaps they felt the machine was dangerous for a child.

I can't seem to go on walks, without coming home with pockets full of stuff :o).  Today, I emptied parmotrema lichens, an oak gall, and dried mushrooms from my pockets.  These will all eventually be used as dye stuffs.  I cooked up some of our frozen limas, and used some of our parsley in potato salad.  It was quite warm for a February day, in the upper 60's, and potato salad made us both happy.  Open windows for fresh air was lovely too.  Wishing you much love this Valentine's week.